Videos of Aboriginal and Islander dancing from North Queensland, Australia

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Aboriginal and Islander dancing from North Queensland

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is now mainly performed on stage. During the yearly “Pyramid Race”, in which athletes run up to Walsh's pyramid near Gordonvale, 25 kilometres south of Cairns, local Aboriginal people of the Yidinyji-Malanbarra clan may perform traditional dances, nowadays accompanied with the didjeridu, an instrument originally from Arnhem Land. A festival at the Parramatta Primary School in Cairns showcases different groups, mainly from local schools; Aboriginal Dancing and those from the Torres Strait Islands, accompanied by hourglass drums from Papua New Guinea, are also featured.

Hope Vale performance
Parramatta School Group
Mundingburra School Group
Dances from Mabuiag Island
Pamagirri Dancers from Cairns
Gimuy Walubara Yidinyji dancers
'Kab Kar' Fishing dances
Women's dances from Mer
Malukazil Dancers from Erub (Darnley Island)
Malukazil and Djarragun Dancers
Djarragun Dancers in Cairns
Djarragun Murray Island dances
Two Kab Kar dances Djarragun Dancers
Murray Island boy dancers
Murray Island girl dancers
Jelukai Dance from Mer
Mayirr Fire Dance
Dances from Boigu Island
Djarragun Junior Dancers
Djarragun Senior Dancers
Djarragun Girl Dancers
Maumatang War Dance
Djarragun Aboriginal Dancers
Boigu Island Paddle Dance

Mabo Day commemorates Eddie Mabo's challenge to the Australian Government's claim that Australia was "empty land" before colonisation, a notion that was finally overturned in 1992: he came from Murray Island (or Mer), in the eastern Torres Strait. During the 2003 celebrations at the Sound Shell in the centre of Cairns (recently removed: a street runs there now) the Djarragun College Torres Strait Islander dancers performed contemporary social dances, in white singlet and “lap-lap”, wraparound cloth, accompanied by drums and harmonious singing or just drumming as in the fast “Silent Dance”. There was the more traditional “Kab Kar” of Murray Island; in which boys dance in pairs, following each other, with intricate movements, accompanied by chanting and drumming; they wear feather headdresses, known as “dhari”, that also features on the Torres Strait Islands flag. The participants, apart from the Djarragun Dancers, includes the Malukazil Dance Group from Erub (Darnley Island) and women from Mer (Murray Island), sharing the same culture. The festivities in Cairns carried on into the night with spectacular dances.

The following year the Djarragun dancers performed again on the stage of the Cairns Sound Shell and this time, in addition to the Senior boys, featured a Junior and a Girl's group as well.

In May 2010 the Weipa Fest was held in the town of Weipa, the main town on the west coast of Cape York peninsula. It was envisaged this would be a yearly event. In this first year the main participants were the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Djarragun College.